New planning rules for HMO’s

Much discussed at our LAT meetings, and commented upon HERE and HERE on this site, from Friday, 5 April 2013, new rules about small student lets and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), will come into force in five electoral wards within Brighton and Hove. The areas of the city to be covered by the controls are those most affected by large concentrations of student lets and HMOs.  These are:

  • Hanover and Elm Grove
  • Hollingdean and Stanmer
  • Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
  • Queen’s Park
  • St Peters and North Laine

The council has introduced a control, known as an article 4 direction, to help improve the management and quality of student accommodation and prevent over-concentration of HMOs in established residential areas. The direction means that a planning application will be required to change the use of a house (defined as C3 use in planning legislation) to a small house in multiple occupation (C4 use class).  Small HMOs are defined as properties lived in by between three and six people where facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom are shared.

The article 4 direction removes existing rights to change the use of a family house into a small HMO without seeking planning permission. The change will not affect existing HMOs.

The measure takes into account recommendations in the Student Housing Strategy made in partnership by the council, the city’s Universities, letting agents and private sector landlords.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s City Plan includes a policy that sets out how planning applications for new student lets and HMOs will be applied.  Changes of use will not be allowed where more than 10 per cent of dwellings, within a 50m radius of the application site, are already in HMO use.

The map below shows HMO and shared housing density in our ward – a larger version and further information can be found HERE on the council website.

HMO densityHanover & Elm Grove ward councillor Liz Wakefield, Chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Housing Committee, says: “Our universities and student population are important elements of the city’s demographic and we need to ensure landlords are providing them with suitable accommodation.  The new rules will help us to monitor HMOs and provide a balance of sustainable and inclusive communities across Brighton & Hove.”

Houses in Multiple Occupation Licencing Update

Thanks to the council for this update

Additional licensing of smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation – 5th  November commencement of designation.

As previously publicised, following a report to Housing Committee, the wards of Hanover and Elm Grove, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, St Peters and North Laine, Hollingdean & Stanmer and Queen’s Park have been designated as subject to additional licensing in relation to smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation of two or more storeys and three or more occupiers.

The designation comes into force from Monday 5 November 2012.  It will last for 5 years.

This designation follows extensive consultation and evidence gathering in relation to issues arising with management of smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation in these five wards not already licensed by the Council.

Landlords of smaller HMOs in these five wards that have not already applied for a licence are reminded of the commencement of the additional licensing designation and of the need to apply for a license.

If you have a property in one of the wards and think it may need to be licensed or have any questions, please ring Private Sector Housing on (01273) 293156 or e-mail us on  Or visit our website

Student Housing and HMO Update

Thanks to Liz Hobden from the council Planning Strategy & Projects Team for this update.

The council is undertaking two separate consultations relating to student housing and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

1.      Article 4 Direction for Student Housing and HMOs

A consultation is underway on a proposal to control changes of use from small houses to small houses in multiple occupation. This is known as an Article 4 direction. The purpose of the direction is to prevent over-concentration of student lets and HMOs in the five wards most affected:

  •  Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
  • Hanover and Elm Grove
  • Hollingbury and Stanmer
  • St Peters and North Laine
  • Queen’s Park

The consultation runs until 20 July and we would like to receive your views. This link will provide you with further details and access to the Consultation Portal:

2.    The City Plan

The City Plan has a new policy on student housing and houses in multiple occupation (known as HMOs). The aim is to promote new purpose built student accommodation in suitable locations and to help manage the concentration or clustering of student lets and other HMOs in established residential neighbourhoods.

New purpose built student accommodation

Five sites are identified in the Plan for new purpose built student housing. This will help encourage students to choose managed accommodation over HMOs and is particularly important for first year students. The five sites are:

  • Varley Halls, Coldean Lane, Brighton
  • Preston Barracks, Lewes Road, Brighton
  • Pelham Street, Brighton
  • Circus Street, Brighton
  • East Slope, University of Sussex

The policy also sets out clear criteria against which any other new student housing schemes will be assessed.

Controlling the concentration of HMOs

This part of the policy will work in tandem with the proposed Article 4 direction. This means that planning permission would be required for changes of use from family homes to small HMOs. At the moment these changes can take place without planning permission. Planning permission will not be granted where more than 10% of neighbouring properties are already in HMO use.

You can find out more about the City Plan and you can make comments online at:

The draft City Plan and supporting documents area also available to view at Brighton Customer Service in Bartholomew Square, Hove Customer Service Centre, Hove Town Hall, Portslade Customer Service Centre and all local libraries.

You can use the council’s consultation portal to send in your response online, or you can download a response form from the council’s website. Forms are also available from the council’s Customer Service Centres or the Library.

Completed response forms and all other comments must be received by no later than 20 July 2012.

Free Energy Efficiency Surveys for Hanover

(Guest post editied from a press release issued by Brighton & Hove 10:10. Go HERE to see the source)

Help is at hand for Hanover homeowners wanting to reducing their energy bills, after four local organisations won Government funding to carry out nearly 200 free home energy efficiency assessments in the city.

Brighton & Hove 1010, Brighton Energy Co-operative, the Low Carbon Trust and Brighton Peace and Environment Centre, working with community partners, including Hanover Action for Sustainable Living, successfully bid for a total of £242,188 from the Government’s Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF).

The grant will be used to carry out free, energy efficiency surveys in 175 homes in Hanover, Hollingdean and Portslade, and in community centres across the city. Up to 400 homeowners will also receive free energy efficiency packs that will include energy meters, draft-proofing and radiator boosters to help them get started on making their home warmer and more comfortable to live in.

The Green Building Partnership, a newly formed cooperative of local contractors and suppliers that specialises in eco refurbishments, will deliver the reports and surveys.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability Cllr Pete West said: “We’re very pleased to see the LEAF funding being awarded to support these local groups. We recognise all the hard work they have been doing in the city to promote energy efficiency and carbon reduction, and this funding provides a great opportunity to work together and make a real difference for our residents.”

Tom Chute, project manager for Brighton & Hove 1010, said: “This is fantastic news for Brighton & Hove residents. With energy bills increasing every year, it’s vital that we help residents stop wasting energy and make their homes warmer and more comfortable to live in. LEAF helps us start this process.”

If you would like to take part in this scheme, recieve a free home energy audit and report and energy efficiency pack you can telephone The Green Building Partnership on 01273 961272 or go here and fill in a form or turn up at the ‘Warm Home Drop-in” on Saturday Feb 25th at the Hanover Community Centre: 10.30am – 12,30pm and 2-4pm.

September meeting in brief part 2 – Houses in Multiple Occupation

The other main topic this month was Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s). Large numbers of properties being coverted from family into shared housing in the area brings pressures.

Previous meeting have looked at night noise, refuse and recycling issues and parking as being particularly impacted upon by an increased and more transient population.  Additionally – and harder to quantify – are worries that the ‘liveability’ of the neighbourhood changes with greater population churn, that people become less likely to know their neighbours and that short term residents have less of a commitment to the area and community.

With these issues in mind, the meeting was pleased to welcome the Head of Operations at BHCC Housing Strategy – Martin Reed and Liz Hobden from the BHCC Local Development Team.

Martin focussed on HMO licencing.  At present all HMO’s shared by more than 5 people and comprising three stories or more need to be licenced by the council. Being licenced means that the quality of the accomodation is checked and poorly converted or badly managed properties can be refused a licence. Penalties for breach of licence can be significant and more details about the current regime – including a register of HMO’s can be found on the council website. Martin is currently looking at changing the licence conditions to include properties of two stories or more rather than three, which will bring a lot more local properties into the licencing regime.  To make this change, Martin needs to carry out a full consultation, and the likelyhood of this going forward will depend on the outcome of this. More information on this process will be posted here as it becomes available.

The second strand of the HMO debate came from Liz, who is looking at the potential of a planning tool called an  ‘Article 4 Direction‘. Currently, if a property is extended to to provide extra bedrooms as a viable HMO, so long as it it doesn’t excede its permited development rights it would not normally need planning permission. An Article 4 Direction can be made which removes permitted development rights in some circumstances; this doesn’t mean that properties cannot be extended, but would mean that developers would need planning consent for these changes. This process is being adopted at the moment by other local authorities for similar reasons. If an Article 4 Direction is made, Liz is exploring a precentage level of HMO’s per street – the example given was 10% – which could be established via planning, meaning greater local control over the proliferation of HMO’s in the City.

Contributions from both officers were warmly welcomed and much appreciated. More details will be placed in the minutes, and updates will be posted as they are available.